The U.S. Census every decade is often a good news/bad news report for various communities and counties.
In west central Minnesota, Willmar and Kandiyohi County received good news as both grew over the past decade -- with Willmar growing 6.9 percent to 19,610 and Kandiyohi County growing 2.5 percent to 42,239.
Meeker and Stearns counties also had population growth, with Meeker growing 2.9 percent to 23,300 and Stearns hitting double-digit growth at 12.9 percent by growing to 150,342.
The rest of the counties in west central Minnesota continue a decades-long trend of population loss. Kandiyohi County; Lyon County, which includes Marshall; and Nobles County, which includes Worthington, were the only counties in those regions to gain population over the past decade.
Willmar's loss came in totaling only 19,610 in the 2010 Census and missing the valued 20,000-population milestone. We hope Willmar's growth will continue and break that milestone soon.
The biggest loss for a community in west central Minnesota was Appleton, which lost half its population due to the prison closing. Appleton's population dropped 50.8 percent from 2,871 to 1,412.
Everyone in west central and southwestern Minnesota must continue to seek every avenue to develop and grow business -- big and small -- in an effort to help ease the population declines of west central and southwest Minnesota.